Hassan YebdaWith the 2010 World Cup right around the corner, heinnews’s David Hein headed out to the Algerian national team training camp in Herzogenaurach, Germany and chatted with Algerian midfielder Hassan Yebda of Portsmouth in the English Premier League. They discussed Algeria’s return to the World Cup for the first time since 1986; breaking down their first round opponents in South Africa; what the World Cup means to the African continent; and his thoughts about the historic 1982 Algerian team which beat West Germany and Chile at the World Cup.

heinnews: What’s it like for Algeria to be back at the World Cup the first time in 24 years?
Yebda: For me, it’s great to be at the World Cup. It’s exceptional that Algeria is back after so many hard years.

heinnews: What’s the atmosphere like back in Algeria?
Yebda: It’s exceptional for the people of Algeria because they are just people who love football. And it’s something very sensational and exceptional.

heinnews: After qualifying for the World Cup, Algeria went to the African Nations Cup and reached the semifinals. How important was keeping that performance high after reaching the World Cup?
Yebda: It was really important. Now we’re going to try and maintain the same level we had at the African Cup of Nations for the World Cup.

heinnews: Talk a little bit about all three teams Algeria will face during the World Cup – Slovenia, England and the United States.
Yebda: Slovenia are very good team. They beat Russia so that shows how good a team they are.
England is England. They have very good players, a very good coach. It’s England.
The United States had a very good run at the Confederations Cup last year. They have a very good team and we really need to watch out for them.

heinnews: What kind of advantage or disadvantage is there in the order of the games?
Yebda: We would have preferred playing England last just because it’s the most difficult match. We will do everything we can to beat Slovenia. That is so important because it’s the first game.

heinnews: Is there any special meaning about facing off against the U.S.?
Yebda: No, not at all. We’re not looking for troubles or anything. There is nothing. And no special meaning.

heinnews: You know many of the American players from the Premier League, and of course you know the English national team as well. What kind of advantage is that?
Yebda: There are no advantages or disadvantages. Even if we know the players from the U.S. or England, you never know how they will play on the field.

heinnews: Algeria lost to Ireland 3-0 in a friendly last week. What does the team take from that game?
Yebda: We learned what needs to be done in many areas – for example corner kicks. We learned a lot of lessons.

heinnews: How important is the 2010 World Cup to Africa and what kind of support do you expect from the fans?
Yebda: For Africa, for the continent it’s an exceptional thing. Since we are Africans we hope that every African spectator will support them.

heinnews: In 1982, Algeria surprisingly beat West Germany and Chile. What kind of impact did that team have on Algerian football?
Yebda: We are very, very proud of that team. They are very legendary players. We identify ourselves with them. Because when they played in 1982, it was the first time Algeria was at a World Cup. We feel a lot like them and have some of the same feelings as they did.

heinnews: Your coach Rabah Saadane was an assistant with the 1982 team and head coach at the 1986 World Cup team. What’s it like playing for such an experienced coach?
Yebda: Coach has a lot of experience from the 1982 and 1986 World Cup. And he is from Algeria, so he knows how to talk to the players and how to deal with them. And that is very helpful.

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